Tipa For Coaching Minis?

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Original Poster
Jul 11, 2016
ETA: Subject line should read "tips" lol

I have 13 minis this year. I need as many tips as possible to make things fun and to keep their attention. I feel like they don't listen to me so any help with getting their attention would great. Another issue I have is everyone wanting to "help". Today I tried a different approach and rotated every girl to the front by my side to "help" but that was a disaster. I also tried to buddy them up for jumps and constantly switched the girls out. Id work with one girl one on one then when I was done I'd get a buddy and switch her to that girl and move to the single buddy. That wasn't too bad but not everyone stayed with their buddy. Help!
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Jul 24, 2010
1.Bribes its amazing what a kid that age will do for a starbust, or a skittle. I used to get small things from dollar tree and have a treasure chest and they all got a prize when they were really nice to each other, or helped someone, or got a new skill.

2. Create easy little reminders for tech for example we say credit card arms during transitions (being/walking clean with their arms by their side and a a coach goes around with a credit card and tries to swipe between their arm and stomach its fun they all enjoy.

3. When you start putting the routine together with counts know that will not count make it fun sit them in a circle and have them count. I told my kids its the cheerleading song that we have to sing while we cheer.

4. I wouldn't suggest having them help because that may enable their bossiness to their teamates lol.

5. Make everything as animated, kid friendly as possible instead of giving them long explanations or critiques give them one thing to correct at a time and keep it concise.

6. After you give them a critique have them repeat what they need to fix at least once I usually do it about twice.

7. Give them reasons to yell if they are supposed to clean on five make them all yell five or hands ups on three yell three.

8. Give things cutesy names my minis did backwards rolls last year and all of them stood up kind slow and sporadic and i told them to stand up like a piece of popcorn of a pop tart from the toaster.

9. Try to have a sticker chart or something commonly used by school teachers because they likely already understand this kind of system. You could even do like green cup, yellow cup, and red cup look up other classroom management style activities etc.

Good luck its stressful at times, but the minis will ALWAYS be happy to see you and have an easier time getting over a bad practice and your slight blow up unlike your other teams lol.
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Apr 28, 2017
Not a coach, but as an ECED teacher, remove as many distractions as possible. If S5 is practicing on the mat next to Mini 1, it's going to be hard for many of the Mini 1 kids to focus-especially if S5 is running with music. If you must have them in a gym with other teams, put the little ones at the end, facing the opposite way, and try to isolate them from the other teams.

Also, consider bedtimes. For Juniors and seniors, practice from 6:00-8:00 is no big deal. For Minis, bedtime may normally be 7:30 or 8:00. Tired kids won't accomplish much.
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Jan 9, 2010
Just like @DonnaM says, keep distractions to an absolute minimum! Saturday morning practices were a blessing for my minis. When we did have to practice on weeknights, we would often build "mat walls" and block them off from everyone else.

Prizes prizes prizes, all the time. Even the smallest prize will motivate the little ones. We used a lot of Skittles because I could literally offer one Skittle to every kid who walked clean/kept their stunts in the air/straightened their legs in jumps/etc. etc. and they were overjoyed. Moms didn't care because their kid typically didn't get more than 5 Skittles a practice. It's about the act of receiving a prize, not the prize itself.

Make practice fun and it will be much more productive. You can turn pretty much anything into a game. I.e. I had a big foam Disney Princess puzzle that we would put together by hitting pieces of the routine. The reward for putting the whole puzzle together was a 30 second dance party...seriously.

All that being said, coaching minis is definitely not for everyone. It was a fantastic season, but I would never, ever, do it again. Give me a Junior 1 any day.
May 18, 2011
Winnipeg, Manitoba
1- Always prizes and bribes. And follow through on not providing the prize if they don't do what they should have to earned it. One thing I learned is that kids will remember an empty threat and try to call you on it.

2- Do everything at half speed, except jumps because they look strange. If they can get it, speed it up, but doing 2 count everything saved our lives.

3- Games. Random breaks to be silly. If they were getting really unfocused, we'd do a quick dance party then come back. We also did "speed runs" of their routine, where they didn't do the skills, but the coaches would count as fast as we good and they had to get to their spots and mock the skills. It just lets them blow off steam

4- Switch what you're doing every 10-15 minutes. Don't think you can do choreography for a whole hour and have them remember or focus. They can't.

5- Sticker charts to show how many of something they've done. This year, we're using felt boards and they can stick a star or whatever shape to the board when they've been successful.

6- Get their music made at about 135 bpm. Less 8 counts and slower movements. Also accept that they may need more than an 8 count to transition.

7- Come up with crazy analogies to get them to do things. For staying tight we talk about Agustus Gloop getting stuck in the chocolate tube, and if he'd just been tight and hollow he would've gone right up. Or how flyers should keep their elbows up before a load like Cruella DeVille in 101 Dalmations driving her car. Anything you can compare to a Disney character goes over well.

8- Be realistic in what you expect from them. The coaches last year just called our kids "potatoes with arms" (not to them!) . Bless them, but they're uncoordinated. Most of our minis are 6 so they're extra uncoordinated compared to those mini teams that are pure 8 year olds

Just know that coaching mini may be the most rewarding thing that you ever do. They love you and what they're doing so much and you're creating their entire view of cheerleading. Last year, my kids finished last at their biggest competition, but had the run of their lives. We cried, they thought we were nuts. When they came in last, they collectively decided that trophies didn't matter and that they're probably the best team in Canada. And we never "corrected" that thought. If you're happy, they are. They may understand winning and losing, but what they want is to see their coaches smile. And they could fall all over, and I'd still smile because they're the best most innocent age.
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